Journey to the Center of the Earth

Year: 1959

Production: 20 Century-Fox

Director: Henry Levin

Starring: Pat Boone, James Mason, Arlene Dahl, Diane Baker, Thayer David, Peter Ronson, Robert Adler, Alan Napier

Screenwriter: Walter Reisch, Charles Brackett

Based on Voyage au Centre de la Terre (1864) by Jules Verne

132 minutes; Color


A lively and literate screenplay (co-written by producer Brackett, one of the Hollywood giants), vigorous if stereotyped characterization, good performances and a charming duck called Gertrud make this superior among the numerous Verne adaptations of the 1950s. There is a real sense of wonder in some of the underground sequences - which involve labyrinthine caverns, a great ocean at the center of the hollow earth, the remains of Atlantis and statutory dinosaurs (iguanas with fins attached) - though the special effects are uneven. The escape from the center riding a lava jet on an Atlantean altar of serpentine up a presumably 3900-mile (6250 km) volcanic shaft is merely absurb; but, despite plot changes - including a rival expedition led by a satisfyingly villainous Icelander played by David - Journey to the Center of the Earth, set in the 1880s, is true in spirit to its stirring original.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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